Timbers sign van Rankin: A look at the defensive depth chart

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Timbers have signed Mexican international right-back Josecarlos van Rankin from Chivas Guadalajara to a one-year loan deal with an option to buy.

Van Rankin, 27, has plenty of experience in 250+ Liga MX appearances for big-name clubs, namely Pumas. You can read all about his skillset here, although there’s nothing out of the ordinary.

His arrival comes off the heels of a wild few years of fullback changes, including:

  • Alvas Powell and Zarek Valentin’s departures

  • Team-of-the-Season-Jorge Moreira’s failure to re-sign

  • Jorge Villafaña’s return and re-departure

…and much, much more.

So far this offseason, the Timbers have added Claudio Bravo and van Rankin while subtracting Chris Duvall, Villafaña, and Gresham’s own Marco Farfan. This leaves Pablo Bonilla as Portland’s only returning outside back.

In the center of defense, Julio Cascante is the only departure, while Larrys Mabiala and Zac McGraw had their deals extended. Dario Župarić and Bill Tuiloma are still under contract.

If you’re good at counting, you may realize that totals four defensive departures and just two additions. The front office will surely be adding more depth as the offseason continues…

Gavin Wilkinson’s “Young Designated Player Center Back” signing that was mentioned at the start of the offseason has yet to materialize. Some have speculated the youngin’ may come from Brazil, as the Timbers have reportedly already had an offer declined from there.

Despite a looming lockout, let’s assume MLS matches will be played at some point this season. For the sake of exploration, here’s how the Timbers will probably look in their two-deep this year.

screenshot 2021-02-03 at 1.07.13 PM.png

A couple things to note:

  • Notice how we only have seven guys total. And I promise I’m not missing anyone.

  • I have Bonilla listed ahead of van Rankin solely because Giovanni Savarese has some outstanding fascination with him. Personally, I would start van Rankin. But we’ll see come matchday one.

  • There’s been zero indication that Gio wants to move to a back-three or anything like that. I’d be shocked if we’re not lined up in the same back-four.

So how will we fill out the roster? If that Young DP center back wish comes true, that still leaves the Timbers scarily thin at outside back.

I would hope and assume that Wilkinson & Co. take a similar approach to last year: bring in a guy like Chris Duvall for preseason trials and sign him if he fits. Personally, I liked Duvall a lot, and thought he should have been making some starts over Bonilla when both were healthy last season.

If not an MLS vet, the Timbers will likely use T2 call-ups to fill out the outside back positions. This is how Farfan got into the squad, after all. You can find a list of T2 defenders here. Aedan Stanley, who got all the left-back minutes last year, was signed by Sporting KC II over the offseason.

Again, there’s no way the Timbers will head into the regular season this thin.

Follow @doublepostpod on Twitter for instant reactions—and, as always, Go Timbers!

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